Marta goes to California


During this academic year, some of our CeMi PhD students have been visiting external labs for their internships. Marta Cubero visited California and wanted to share her experience with us, thanks Marta! 😊

Hello! I’m Marta!

Hello! My name is Marta and I am now in the last year of my PhD. From August to November, I did my PhD placement supervised by Professor Medha Pathak at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where I had the great opportunity to learn from a pioneer lab in the context of Piezo1 research.

Recently pre-printed, the Pathak Lab has developed a PIEZO1-HaloTag tagged cell line of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). Total Internal Reflection Microscopy (TIRF) can be used to image the activity of the channel allowing the observation of single-channel opening events, for the first time with a time resolution that approaches that of electrophysiology (Bertaccini et al., 2023). Using this innovative approach, I studied the correlation between Piezo1 and my protein of interest. For this, I cultured and differentiated iPSCs and learned how to image using TIRFM for the first time. This was challenging, but I highly enjoyed learning from my Californian lab mates, who helped me understand and gradually become comfortable with these new techniques! I am extremely happy to have learned as much as I did during the time I was there and I am very thankful for all the valuable training and skills that I have taken with me.

Marta working really hard in the lab 🙂

I also had the time to have a bit of fun, and I enjoyed the Californian beaches and their amazing sunsets and visited beautiful San Francisco and Disneyland, where Al MacDonald and I had a great CeMi meetup while eating corndogs and riding rollercoasters! I also had time to eat American food, like S ’mores on the beach, and I enjoyed the company of the fantastic Pathak Lab.

To sum up, my time visiting the Pathak Laboratory has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has benefited me in a professional and personal way, and has given me the chance to establish a precious working collaboration in a brilliant and ambitious lab.

Lastly, I would like to mention that this placement was generously funded by the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, to whom I am greatly thankful.